Juniper is a short evergreen shrub whose fruit and oil provides a flavoring agent used extensively in the food, perfume, and soap industries. Juniper berry is probably best known as the unique flavoring agent of gin, an important component of the dry martini, a popular intoxicant and a putative calmative revered by western culture for over 300 years. As a medicinal remedy, juniper has a long history of use employed as a treatment for numerous diseases by ancient Greek and Arab healers, as well as Native American Indians.
Juniper Berry is also used for indigestion and digestive disorders such as belching, heartburn, and bloating, as well as menstrual problems and diabetes. This familiar household seasoning has a significant diuretic effect, flushing excess water from the body. It's this ability to increase the flow of urine that makes Juniper a useful aid in the treatment of urinary infections and kidney stones. The berries' diuretic action also tends to lower blood pressure--although not sufficiently to warrant therapeutic use. Numerous varieties of Juniper are found throughout most of the northern hemisphere, growing from 6 to 30 feet in height. The ripe blue berries have a tangy aroma and a tangy-sweet, then bitter taste. Oil extracted from Juniper berries is the main flavoring agent in gin.
Juniper is normally taken internally by eating the berries or making a tea from them. It is useful for digestive problems resulting from an underproduction of hydrochloric acid, and is also helpful for gastrointestinal infections, inflammations, gout, palsy, epilepsy, typhoid fever, cholera, cystitis, urethritis, rheumatism, weak immune system, sciatica, to stimulate appetite, helps eliminate excess water, and cramps. Relieves inflammation and sinusitis. Helps in treatment of pancreas, prostate, kidney, and gallstones, leukorrhea, dropsy, lumbago, hypoglycemia, hemorrhoids, scurvy, kills worms, treats snakebites, cancer, and ulcers. Regulates sugar levels. The lye made of the ashes will cure the itch, scabs, and leprosy. Used as a diuretic.
Juniper berries (Fructus juniperi) are most effective when used in combination with other herbs such as broom, uva ursi, cleavers, and buchu. Dried berries are excellent as a preventative of disease and should be chewed or used as a strong tea to gargle the throat when exposed to contagious diseases.